Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Blumenthal Critical of Bush's Cut in Flood Control Funding

Sidney Blumenthal has criticized Bush’s cutting of funds for flood control in Salon. According to Blumenthal, “In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.”

DNA Mapping Provides Further Evidence For Evolution

It’s time to regard the creationists as no better than the flat-earthers. Although there never has been any true scientific controversy over evolution, opponents of science ((including those who hide behind the intelligent design name, as well as people like Deepak Chopra who cite the same arguments as the religious fundamentalists) have had their position totally blown away with completion of the mapping of chimpanzee DNA.

“The fresh unraveling of chimpanzee DNA allows an unprecedented gene-to-gene comparison with the human genome, mapped in 2001, and makes plain the evolutionary processes through which chimps and humans arose from a common ancestor about 6 million years ago.”

John Kerry Appeals for Help for Katrina Victims

John Kerry sent out an email to the members of appealing for help for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Here's the text:

Dear Friend,

This is a time for all Americans to pull together and do everything we can to assist people whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

If you haven't acted already, I urge you to join in delivering immediate help to the people who need it most. One way to do that is to support the relief and recovery efforts of the Red Cross with a personal donation. Donate to the Red Cross.

John Kerry - Red Cross
Read more »

The Gulf Coast Needs Help and Hope

Breaking News:
The Bush administration has declared a Public Health Emergency across the Gulf Coast.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said Wednesday he feared that thousands had died in his city alone.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the two most precious needs are HELP and HOPE.

Now, two days after Katrina ravaged through the Gulf Coast, it appears America is once again in the midst of her darkest hours. Those still remaining in the city of New Orleans are preparing for final evacuation. Such a forced complete evacuation is unprecedented in American history. The thousands who took refuge in the Superdome since before the storm, will be evacuated to Houston's Astrodome.

Last night the DNC sent out an email to members asking that they donate to the American Red Cross. The LCV also sent out a plea today for donations to various organizations including the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross were amongst the first responders to this disaster and are coordinating with FEMA. Please do what you can to help...

On Monday, soon after the news began reporting the first signs of devastation I posted a thread on how people could help, you can find an extensive list of organizations taking donations here: Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Info.

Information on various charities and ways to donate to the relief effort are also available through:

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Whether or not it applies directly to Katrina, The Guardian did look at the politics of suppressing science related to global warming:

Some of America’s leading scientists have accused Republican politicians of intimidating climate-change experts by placing them under unprecedented scrutiny.

A far-reaching inquiry into the careers of three of the US’s most senior climate specialists has been launched by Joe Barton, the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on energy and commerce. He has demanded details of all their sources of funding, methods and everything they have ever published.

Mr Barton, a Texan closely associated with the fossil-fuel lobby, has spent his 11 years as chairman opposing every piece of legislation designed to combat climate change.

In other environmental news today, the BBC reports on how human action is increasing the size of the hole in the ozone layer.

(See The Democratic Daily for discussion of the possible link between global warming and Katrina.)

Iraq War Fourth Most Expensive in US History

The Christian Science Monitor shows that the war in Iraq is turning into one of the most expensive wars in United States history, including both military and reconstruction costs. Corrected for inflation, this is the fourth most expensive war, behind World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. One projection has the war costing $4,745 per person.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

John Kerry and Celebrities Raise Money for the Jimmy Fund

Yesterday, John Kerry and a host of celebrities raised more than $2.2 million in a telethon for the Jimmy Fund. "The Jimmy Fund, established in 1948 to support cancer research at Dana-Farber, has been the primary charity for the Red Sox since 1953. "

The event had already topped last year's total by 6 p.m., with the phone lines open until midnight. The telethon on WEEI-AM radio and New England Sports Network cable television station surpassed its goal of raising $2 million by 10:30 p.m.

Among the celebrity fundraisers were: John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Rick Schroeder, Roger Clemens, George Steinbrenner, Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs.

Recently, John Kerry helped raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute by riding in the Pan MA Challenge. He also recently posted his survivor story on

Friday, August 26, 2005

NARAL Ad Criticizes Roberts on Privacy Rights

NARAL misfired in their earlier ad in falsely suggesting that John Roberts approved of violence against abortion providers. They have redeemed themselves with a new ad which gets to the real issues. Even agreed with the accuracy of this ad.

The ad concentrates on writings in which Roberts shows he does not believe in the right to privacy or the court’s previous findings in Rowe v. Wade. FactCheck notes that the Supreme Court has recognized the right to privacy dating back to 1891:

The Supreme Court, beginning in a case in 1891 and especially since the 1960s, has recognized that there may be zones of privacy in certain instances. In Griswold v. Connecticut , for example, the Court invoked a “right of privacy” in ruling that the state cannot make it illegal for married couples to use contraceptives. The court has addressed the “right to privacy” in a wide range of cases dealing with illegal searches in schools, random drug testing, and the government’s ability to access personal information.

In addition to these court cases, legal scholars have also cited portions of the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments as providing for personal autonomy and privacy. The 9th amendment also preserves rights for the individual which were not specifically enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution.

How Low Can It Go?

Gallup has Bush’s approval at the lowest point in its poll, down to 40%. His previous low in the Gallup Poll was 44% (July 25-28, 2005)

Limited Progress in Iraq Reconstruction

The Christian Science Monitor reviews other reports showing that despite spending more than $9 billion in Iraq in the past two years, the US has had only ‘limited progress’ in important sectors such as oil and power. Problems include the insurgency, fraud on the part of the new Iraqi government, and according to a GAO report, millions of dollars worth in fraud by US officials and companies.

90% Support Right to Protest War

Right wing pundits have frequently argued that opponents of the war should be thrown out of the country or otherwise penalized for their “treason.” Fortunately most of the country has not really moved as far to the right as it sometimes seems. An AP-Ipsos poll shows that 90% of American support the right of opponents of the war to protest (with a lower percentage of Republicans supporting freedom of speech). 53% believe going into Iraq was a mistake, but 60% also believe we should stay there until the situation is stabilized.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Library Sues Over Patriot Act

A library, along with the ACLU, are suing Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller in response to a request for library records under the Patriot Act. American Civil Liberties Union. The suit calls the FBI’s order to produce library records “unconstitutional on its face” and said a gag order preventing public discussion of the lawsuit is an unlawful restraint on speech. ThePatriot Act prevents libraries from even discussing such requests to turn over records. The ACLU is calling for the lifting of this ban so that the library involved can participate in public debate.

Roberts Connected to Iran Contra Scandle

The Washington Post reports on Roberts’ documents which the Democrats are attempting to get copies of. One sounds particularly interesting. It appears that John Roberts may have given Reagan the legal advice used to fund the Contras during the Iran Contra Scandle:

One file withheld, regarding the Iran- contra affair, was a draft memo from Roberts to his bosses with the heading “re: establishment of NHAO” — referring to the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office.

The office was one of the ways the Reagan administration got around what were known as the Boland amendments, which prohibited U.S. intelligence agencies from spending money to overthrow the Sandinistas. The office was a way the administration could get funds to the contras for nonmilitary purposes, but once there the money was used for all sorts of things.

Today's Sports: Bush Out of Touch

Another sign we might have passed the tipping point is when even the sports pages attack Bush. Ian O’Connor had this to say in USA Today:

Bush might be a bigger sports junkie than Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, JFK and Taft, founding presidential father of the ceremonial first pitch. So it was no surprise that Bush used his State of the Union address to assail the professional athletes responsible for the performance-enhancing plague. The timing was appropriate, even with the bullets flying abroad. Too many kids had taken too many drugs because grown-up stars led them to believe they were the surest roads to fortune and fame.

This was Bush at his best. And then this was Bush at his worst, after that finger-wagging witness on Capitol Hill, ex-Ranger Rafael Palmeiro, was found to have raided Ben Johnson’s medicine chest: “Rafael Palmeiro is a friend. He testified in public, and I believe him.”

Good grief. Bush called for reform, then railed against the reform.

This was a minor misstep when measured against a biking and fishing vacation lasting longer than the Spanish Inquisition. Bush is a man who cares about fitness — this is good. When a bum knee forced him to stop running, he could’ve done what most 50-something men with bum knees do: limit their recreational pursuits to synchronized channel-surfing. Bush burned calories on the 10-speed instead.

But nobody wants to hear about his impressive pulse rate and body-fat percentages when American boys and girls are dying overseas, and when lawmakers start throwing around the dreaded V-word — Vietnam — in the daily dialogue on Iraq.

Kerry Right on Korea

The Council on Foreign Relations shows yet again that Kerry was right and Bush was wrong, forcing the Bush Administration to shift their policy on North Korea:

Specifically, what was the major change in the United States’ position?

If you go back to the presidential debates in 2004, a question was asked about North Korea. [Democratic candidate] John Kerry said, in effect, that “I think we should have a stronger bilateral component to the six-party process.” The president essentially said “nonsense, it’s six-party, [and] we are going to have nothing to do with the North Koreans in a bilateral way at all.”

What has happened in the last several months is that the individual spokesmen in the White House and the State Department, as the line has changed at the top, have signaled publicly that this is OK for direct talks, so long as it is in the context of the six-party talks. But if you wanted to take a look at this in a critical fashion you would say exactly what critics were saying for a long time, and that the president must have reversed himself. But I think it is a losing battle to try to assign blame, to get the administration to admit the president changed course.

Rice was asked on the [NewsHour with Jim] Lehrer show recently, “Haven’t you changed your tactics?” Her answer was, “No, this is what we have been doing all along.” There had previously been contacts between James Kelly, the former head of the [U.S.] delegation, and the North Koreans. This is not even close to being the truth, but it doesn’t matter. They are not going to admit a mistake. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is what is being done currently and in the future.

Robertson Now Criticized for Comments on Israel

NEW YORK, Aug. 25 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned televangelist Pat Robertson's comments on the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In remarks broadcast on The 700 Club as the Israeli government followed through on its disengagement plan last week, Robertson sharply criticized the decision to withdraw from Gaza, saying that, "God says I am going to judge the nations who have parted my land. He said I am going to bring judgment against them."

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, issued the following statement:

Clearly this has not been a good week for Pat Robertson. On top of his outrageous call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Mr. Robertson also chose to condemn Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and said that God will judge those who leave parts of the land of Israel.

As a staunch supporter of Israel, Mr. Robertson should understand that his comments further play into the division of a country and encourage those in Israel who prefer a very narrow religious interpretation over the democratic institutions that keep the country together.


The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

Who Would Jesus Whack?

The Palm Beach Post, commenting on Pat Robertson’s suggestion to kill a foreign head of state, asks “Who would Jesus whack?”

Pelosi and Reid on Nuclear Terrorism

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have an op-ed in USA Today criticizing Bush on failing to respond to problems of nuclear terrorism:

The president sent us into war with Iraq under the justification of capturing Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but as we all now know, no such weapons were found. But in the places where we know these weapons can be found, the administration’s policy has been one of “hands off” and “it’s someone else’s problem.” With a gathering storm around us, the report, written by former Defense secretary William Perry and other national security experts, details that the administration has done far too little to confront this clear and present threat.

The administration has allowed a situation where both terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and the nuclear materials they seek are on the loose. It is only a matter of time before they find one another. The reality of this peril is not fiction.

Al-Qaeda’s captured operations chief has told interrogators that the terrorist network has the ability to obtain nuclear material. Bin Laden has obtained a fatwa from a Saudi cleric providing a justification for the murder of 10 million American “infidels” with a nuclear weapon. And CIA Director Porter Goss has testified that al-Qaeda might already possess radioactive material.

The article includes their recommendations for responding to the problem.

Scientist Leaves Discovery Institute

The Seattle Times spoke with Bob Davidson who originally joined the Discovery Institute because he was seeking a place where people believed in both a creator and in science. He left after realizing their true goals. “When I joined I didn’t think they were about bashing evolution. It’s pseudo-science, at best … What they’re doing is instigating a conflict between science and religion.” Further in the article:

He was shocked, he says, when he saw the Discovery Institute was calling evolution a “theory in crisis.”

“It’s laughable: There have been millions of experiments over more than a century that support evolution,” he says. “There’s always questions being asked about parts of the theory, as there are with any theory, but there’s no real scientific controversy about it.”

Davidson began to believe the institute is an “elaborate, clever marketing program” to tear down evolution for religious reasons. He read its writings on intelligent design — the notion that some of life is so complex it must have been designed — and found them lacking in scientific merit.

Bill Maher on Intelligent Design

I recently referred to Bill Maher’s comments on intelligent design. Here’s the full text:

And finally New Rule: You don’t have to teach both sides of a debate, if one side is a load of crap.

Now, President Bush recently suggested that public schools should teach intelligent design, alongside the theory of evolution. Because, after all, evolution is quote, “just a theory.” Then the President renewed his vow to drive the terrorists straight over the edge of the earth.

Now, here is what I don’t get. President Bush is a brilliant scientist. He’s the man who proved you can mix two parts booze with one part cocaine, and still fly a jet fighter. And yet… yet he just can’t seem to accept that we descended from apes.

It just seems pathetic to be so insecure about your biological superiority, to a group of feces-flinging, rouge-buttocked monkeys, that you have to make up fairy tales. Like we came from Adam and Eve, and then cover stories for Adam and Eve like, intelligent design. Yeah, leaving the Earth in the hands of two naked teenagers. That’s a real intelligent design.

I’m sorry, folks, but it may very well may be that life is just a series of random events. And that there is no… master plan. But enough about Iraq. Let me instead restate my thesis. There aren’t necessarily two sides to every issue. If there were, the Republicans would have an opposition party.

And an opposition party would point out that even though there’s a debate, in schools, and government, about this, there is no debate among scientists. Evolution… is supported by the entire scientific community. Intelligent design is supported by guys online to see “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

And the reason there is no real debate, is that intelligent design isn’t real science. It’s the equivalent of saying that the thermos keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, because it’s a god. It’s so willfully ignorant you might as well worship the U.S. Mail. It came again! Praise, Jesus!

No, stupidity isn’t a form of knowing things. Thunder is high pressure air meeting low pressure air. It’s not God bowling. Babies come from storks is not a competing school of thought… in medical school. We shouldn’t teach both. The media shouldn’t equate both. If Thomas Jefferson…

If Thomas Jefferson knew we were blurring the line this much between church and state, he would turn over in his slave. Now as for me, I believe in evolution and intelligent design. I think God designed us in his image, but I also think God is a monkey! God bless you and goodnight!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Red State versus Blue State Discipline

Would it be unfair to use this data to argue that red state people differ from blue state people in their support of cruelty to children? Apparently a kid who says this in the red states is more likely to have their mouth washed out with soap.

Bush’s Record on Predicting Terrorist Actions

George Bush sure thinks he is an expert on what the terrorist think. For example, the New York Times reports Bush is saying that “an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq would only embolden terrorists and make America and its allies more vulnerable to attack.” Maybe, or maybe less people would be willing to give up their lives to attack us if they didn’t see the United States as a threat to themselves and families.

I’ll leave that question for another time. What I’m really interested in today is statements like this where Bush or people in his administration claim to have great insight into how people in al Qaeda think. During the election we heard all sorts of warnings, even suggestions that Bin Laden wanted Kerry to win. (Never mind the fact that Bush did exactly what Bin Laden wanted in attacking a secular country such as Iraq and assisting al Qaeda with their recruiting).

If George Bush is such an expert on how Bin Laden thinks, I can’t help but wonder why he didn’t know they were going to attack before 9/11. He didn’t even need great insight considering that his own intelligence briefings before 9/11 said Bin Laden was going to attack. I also wonder why he didn’t realize that Bin Laden would easily bribe his way to safety if locals rather than the US military went in after him at Tora Bora. Again he didn’t even need to have a great deal of knowlege. John Kerry was warning him against this course of action.

With this track record we should ignore any statement out of the Bush Administration which attempts to predict what al Qaeda will do or how they will respond to any US actions.

McCain Backs Teaching Intelligent Design

I’ve often said it here that John McCain is not as bad as the neocons in control of the GOP, but he is also certainly no moderate. Here’s another example of how McCain is definately a conservative. The Arizona Daily Star reports that McCain supports George Bush’s view that intelligent design should be taught in the schools.

To steal an idea from Bill Mahar, the next time a patient asks me about fertility issues I guess I’m going to have to include the stork theory in order to educate on all opposing viewpoints. So much for the view that opposing viewpoints don’t need to be taught if they are crap devoid of any scientific merit.

Differences Between Democratic and Republican Health Care Solutions

Malcolm Gladwell (who I also referred to on another topic a few days ago) has an important essay on health care in the New Yorker. Gladwell first outlines many of the problems of our current system:

One of the great mysteries of political life in the United States is why Americans are so devoted to their health-care system. Six times in the past century—during the First World War, during the Depression, during the Truman and Johnson Administrations, in the Senate in the nineteen-seventies, and during the Clinton years—efforts have been made to introduce some kind of universal health insurance, and each time the efforts have been rejected. Instead, the United States has opted for a makeshift system of increasing complexity and dysfunction. Americans spend $5,267 per capita on health care every year, almost two and half times the industrialized world’s median of $2,193; the extra spending comes to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. What does that extra spending buy us? Americans have fewer doctors per capita than most Western countries. We go to the doctor less than people in other Western countries. We get admitted to the hospital less frequently than people in other Western countries. We are less satisfied with our health care than our counterparts in other countries. American life expectancy is lower than the Western average. Childhood-immunization rates in the United States are lower than average. Infant-mortality rates are in the nineteenth percentile of industrialized nations. Doctors here perform more high-end medical procedures, such as coronary angioplasties, than in other countries, but most of the wealthier Western countries have more CT scanners than the United States does, and Switzerland, Japan, Austria, and Finland all have more MRI machines per capita. Nor is our system more efficient. The United States spends more than a thousand dollars per capita per year—or close to four hundred billion dollars—on health-care-related paperwork and administration, whereas Canada, for example, spends only about three hundred dollars per capita. And, of course, every other country in the industrialized world insures all its citizens; despite those extra hundreds of billions of dollars we spend each year, we leave forty-five million people without any insurance. A country that displays an almost ruthless commitment to efficiency and performance in every aspect of its economy—a country that switched to Japanese cars the moment they were more reliable, and to Chinese T-shirts the moment they were five cents cheaper—has loyally stuck with a health-care system that leaves its citizenry pulling out their teeth with pliers.

America’s health-care mess is, in part, simply an accident of history. The fact that there have been six attempts at universal health coverage in the last century suggests that there has long been support for the idea. But politics has always got in the way. In both Europe and the United States, for example, the push for health insurance was led, in large part, by organized labor. But in Europe the unions worked through the political system, fighting for coverage for all citizens. From the start, health insurance in Europe was public and universal, and that created powerful political support for any attempt to expand benefits. In the United States, by contrast, the unions worked through the collective-bargaining system and, as a result, could win health benefits only for their own members. Health insurance here has always been private and selective, and every attempt to expand benefits has resulted in a paralyzing political battle over who would be added to insurance rolls and who ought to pay for those additions.

What’s really important in this article is that Gladwell also shows the problems with the Republican solutions such as Health Savings Accounts. Republicans argue that putting consumers more in control of spending will be more efficient. As I’ve discussed previously, the actual result is that people tend to avoid paying for preventative care and treatment of chronic medical problems, which turns out to be more expensive in the long run.

For that matter, when you have to pay for your own health care, does your consumption really become more efficient? In the late nineteen-seventies, the rand Corporation did an extensive study on the question, randomly assigning families to health plans with co-payment levels at zero per cent, twenty-five per cent, fifty per cent, or ninety-five per cent, up to six thousand dollars. As you might expect, the more that people were asked to chip in for their health care the less care they used. The problem was that they cut back equally on both frivolous care and useful care. Poor people in the high-deductible group with hypertension, for instance, didn’t do nearly as good a job of controlling their blood pressure as those in other groups, resulting in a ten-per-cent increase in the likelihood of death. As a recent Commonwealth Fund study concluded, cost sharing is “a blunt instrument.” Of course it is: how should the average consumer be expected to know beforehand what care is frivolous and what care is useful? I just went to the dermatologist to get moles checked for skin cancer. If I had had to pay a hundred per cent, or even fifty per cent, of the cost of the visit, I might not have gone. Would that have been a wise decision? I have no idea. But if one of those moles really is cancerous, that simple, inexpensive visit could save the health-care system tens of thousands of dollars (not to mention saving me a great deal of heartbreak). The focus on moral hazard suggests that the changes we make in our behavior when we have insurance are nearly always wasteful. Yet, when it comes to health care, many of the things we do only because we have insurance—like getting our moles checked, or getting our teeth cleaned regularly, or getting a mammogram or engaging in other routine preventive care—are anything but wasteful and inefficient. In fact, they are behaviors that could end up saving the health-care system a good deal of money.

Gladwell concludes by showing the differences in how liberals and conservatives view health care coverage:

The issue about what to do with the health-care system is sometimes presented as a technical argument about the merits of one kind of coverage over another or as an ideological argument about socialized versus private medicine. It is, instead, about a few very simple questions. Do you think that this kind of redistribution of risk is a good idea? Do you think that people whose genes predispose them to depression or cancer, or whose poverty complicates asthma or diabetes, or who get hit by a drunk driver, or who have to keep their mouths closed because their teeth are rotting ought to bear a greater share of the costs of their health care than those of us who are lucky enough to escape such misfortunes? In the rest of the industrialized world, it is assumed that the more equally and widely the burdens of illness are shared, the better off the population as a whole is likely to be. The reason the United States has forty-five million people without coverage is that its health-care policy is in the hands of people who disagree, and who regard health insurance not as the solution but as the problem.

Small Scale Evolution versus Intelligent Design

As I was contemplating my office's order for influenza vaccine for this season I was torn by a debate. Every year a new vaccine is needed because the influenza virus has become resistant to the previous year's vaccine. The virus has changed, or evolved. The underlying biology is analogous to the evolution of species (and students who do not study evolution will be lacking the necessary framework to understand such basic facts in biology).

Is this a really a change in the virus, or are the right wingers right and has an intelligent designer made the influenza virus change every year so that new vaccines are needed, and some years we get a pandemic?

Along these lines, I have a patient with Methacillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) in the hospital right now. The Staph has changed (evolved) to become resistant to older antibiotics. MRSA is a major problem for hospitals. Have the right wingers been right and the scientists wrong all these years? Is MRSA, and other cases of antibiotic resistance, yet another example of an intelligent designer intervening to screw us medically?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cindy Sheehan Returning to Crawford

Cindy Sheehan has announced she is returning to Crawford in an entery at The Huffington Post

I’m coming back to Crawford for my son. As long as the president, who sent him to die in a senseless war, is in Crawford, that is where I belong. I came here two and a half weeks ago for one reason, to try and see the president and get an answer to a very simple question: What is the noble cause that he says my son died for?
The answer to that question will not bring my son back. But it may stop more meaningless deaths. Because every death is now a meaningless one. And the vast majority of our country knows this. So why do more young men and women have to die? And why do more parents have to lose their children and live the rest of their lives with this unbearable grief?

The presidency is not bigger than the people’s will.

And when the people speak out, it’s the president’s reponsibility to listen. He is there to serve us, not the other way around.

This isn’t about politics. It’s about what is good for America and what’s best for our security and how far this president has taken us away from both.

I’m coming back to Crawford because — now and forever — this is my duty for my son, for my other children, for other parents, and for my country.

JAMA: Fetuses Don't Feel Pain In First Six Months

This probably won’t matter as the right wing never lets facts get in the way of their arguments. The New York Times reports on a study to be published in JAMA tomorrow showing that fetuses cannot feel pain during the first six months of gestation.

Taking on one of the most highly charged questions in the abortion debate, a team of doctors has concluded that fetuses probably cannot feel pain in the first six months of gestation and therefore do not need anesthesia during abortions.

Their report, being published Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is based on a review of several hundred scientific papers, and it says that nerve connections in the brain are unlikely to have developed enough for the fetus to feel pain before 29 weeks.

The finding poses a direct challenge to proposed federal and state laws that would compel doctors to tell women having abortions at 20 weeks or later that their fetuses can feel pain and to offer them anesthesia specifically for the fetus.

Government Based Upon God, Not The Voters

The Los Angeles Times reports on “a bold effort by evangelical conservatives to mold a new generation of leaders who will answer not to voters, but to God.” Exactly how does this differ from a religious dictatorship?

Selling Democrats to Western Home Owners

People in the west have a reputation for voting Republican because they believe this way they are more free of government. Sometimes this backfires. NPR’s Morning Edition today has a story entitled Fissures Swallow Arizona Homeowners’ Dreams. Builders pushed through laws which prevent counties from regulating certain types of housing developments, and the title gives away what happened to the poor people who purchased homes. I bet these people would be more open to considering a littles more government regulation, and to throwing out elected officials who are in the pockets of dishonest business interests.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Deja Vu

Didn’t we hear this story about Iran before? Sounds familar, except that “Iran” ended with a q in the earlier version:

Traces of bomb-grade uranium found two years ago in Iran came from contaminated Pakistani equipment and are not evidence of a clandestine nuclear weapons program, a group of U.S. government experts and other international scientists has determined.

“The biggest smoking gun that everyone was waving is now eliminated with these conclusions,” said a senior official who discussed the still-confidential findings on the condition of anonymity.

The Republicans Owe Kos Thanks For His Help To Their Cause

Here’s just one more example of how Kos’s absurd and counterproductive attacks on Kerry come back to haunt us. The right wing media and blogosphere has been attacking Kerry for his calls for release of documents on John Roberts by continuing their claims that Kerry didn’t release his military records. They ignore the inconvenient fact that Kerry did release all his military records before the election.

The Form 180 signed in June was further proof that the military documents released before the election were complete and accurate. Of course they pretend that the records were not released until June when the Form 180 was signed. They also ignore their own arguments from before the election that signing Form 180 was a definitive way to determine the truth and no longer accept the evidence which exonerated Kerry. They also ignore the fact that George Bush has still failed to release his own National Guard records.

Accuracy in Media which is more right (as in right wing) than accurate raised this issue again today. In order to give the appearance of fairness they even quoted from left as well as right. They had no problem finding an attack on Kerry from Kos (which I won’t bother to quote here).

Dean Scream Over Studied

It may be a case of “publish or perish” but here’s a paper presented at the 113th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association on the “Dean Scream.”

Bush Approval Down to 36%

ARG has yet worse news for Bush in the latest polls: “Among all Americans, 36% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 58% disapprove. When it comes to Bush’s handling of the economy, 33% approve and 62% disapprove.”

Several blogs have already pointed out that this approval rating is even lower than Nixon’s was during the Watergate scandle. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Republicans follow Hagel’s lead in distancing themselves from Bush.

Ohio Investigates Election; Diebold Works on PR

AP reports that “A county elections board has asked a team of computer experts to test its recently purchased touch-screen voting machines to ensure the devices’ programs are sound.” They also report:

In Cleveland, up to 10 subpoenas have been issued in the handling of the presidential recount in December by the Cuyahoga County elections board, according to special prosecutor Kevin J. Baxter. The Erie County prosecutor said the investigation was in the fact-finding stage.

The investigation was prompted by complaints from Green Party candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik. They claimed the sample recount precincts weren’t randomly selected and a test-run recount was done without witnesses.

Elsewhere, Diebold has hired former Democratic National Committee chairman Joe Andrew to help with their public relations following an election which many Democrats feel was stolen by Diebold’s machines. While their Republican political bias has raised suspicion, and while there have been some documented break downs in their machines, no actual fraud has been proven. It is possible that the economic incentives of selling all those machines does outweigh their political bias. Electronic voting machines might even be of benefit to Democrats, who suffered from depressed turn out due to long lines, provided that their results can be verified to prevent any suspicion of fraud. For now, it will be a hard sell to Democrats.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Kerry News From The Prague Daily Monitor

Exhibition presents Senator Kerry's ancestors

USOV (PDM staff with CTK) 22 August - Documents about the ancestors of US Senator John Kerry, whose family roots originate in the former Jewish community in Usov, have been put on display in the local synagogue.

The exhibition, which opened Saturday, also shows works of art inspired by the Jewish tradition. It is to run through September.

The exhibition is organised by the organisation Respekt a tolerance, members of which found the materials related to Kerry's ancestors in London archives some time ago.

"The author of the documents from the 18th century is Abraham Leipniker Loewy, who is the oldest ancestor of Kerry in Usov. A total of five generations of the senator's ancestors lived in Usov," said organiser Ludek Stipl.

The association addressed Kerry earlier and sent the information about his genealogical tree to him.

"Kerry wrote a letter to us, thanking us for the new information. He said he is proud of his Usov ancestors and is considering visiting Usov to get in touch with his roots," Stipl said.

Kerry connections with the Czech Republic surfaced during his unsuccessful race for the US presidency last year. His grandfather, Fritz Kohn, used to live in Horni Benesov, north Moravia. The town municipality then offered honorary citizenship to Kerry.

The first Jews settled in Usov in 1450 after being expelled from the nearby towns of Olomouc and Unicov. About 700 of them lived in Usov in 1850, making up one-third of the town's population. Afterwards their community started to shrink, and none live in Usov at present.

Gladwell's Explanations

It is feeling more and more like we are reaching a tipping point. Coverage of war protests is dominating the news as bipartisan opposition is developing to remaining in Iraq. The public opposes Bush’s handling of the war by almost a 2:1 margin. Approval ratings for George Bush is at a historic low for second term Presidents. There is legitimate grounds for speculation that high ranking aides to both Bush and Cheney will be indicted in the near future. The news media even is showing signs that it is willing to resume reporting the news.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, provides more than this idea for such recent developments. In his more recent book, Blink, Gladwell has a chapter which explains the mentality which led the Bush Administration to believe that it could go into Iraq and achieve an easy victory despite all evidence of the power of insurgencies to prevent such occupation. I don’t want to ruin the not-s0-surprising ending, so I will just recommend that if you don’t buy the book you go to the nearest book store with comfortable reading chairs and check out chapter four.

The Tailor of Bagdad

It’s amazing how real life imitates art. In John LeCarre’s Tailor of Panama the United States almost invaded Panama based upon intelligence made up by a tailor. Tonight CNN is airing Dead Wrong — Inside an Intelligence Meltdown which shows how the United States actually did invade Iraq based upon distorting intelligence reports. The claims of production of WMD in Iraq were largely based upon reports by someone known as Curveball who we now know was making things up. It seems nobody in the Bush Administration really cared to verify that the stories told by Curveball were true.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Bush Starts Push to Defend Iraq War

ABC News calls Bush’s radio address on Iraq as the start of a five day push to defend the Iraq war. His radio address today was more of the same as he confused Iraq with the original terrorist attacks of 9/11. He also continued his claims that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq so that we don’t have to fight them here, ignoring Saudi and Israeli studies showing that the Iraqi insurgency is primarily made up of people radicalized by the US invasion. So he’s creating new terrorists to kill, and doing nothing about the original ones who actually attacked us.

Hopefully Bush’s five day push to defend Iraq will be no more successful than his recent push to promote his poorly conceived plans for Social Security.

See also Pamela’s report on this story and Max Cleland’s response.

Cindy Sheehan Exposes the Right Wing Noise Machine

All Cindy Sheehan wanted to do was to discuss the issues surrounding the death of her son in Iraq, but in becoming a celebrity she unintentionally (and probably without any desire) exposed the disgusting tactics which have become so common in the right wing media and blogosphere. Just as during the entire Iraq war the right has been unwilling to honestly discuss issues such as the dishonesty behind Bush’s Iraq policy and developing an effective response to terrorism, they respond to Cindy Sheehan by resorting to character assassination and attempting to change the discussion to unrelated topics.

With Cindy Sheehan we see the right’s propensity to see everything as us versus them. While most liberal bloggers who have been following Cindy Sheehan don’t care if she is Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, the right wing noise machine has generally resorted to their usual left versus right banter. It wouldn’t matter what party she has supported in the past–we’ve frequently seen them turn against long time Republicans who have spoken out against the abuses of the current Republican leadership.

Rather than allowing this to be an honest debate about Iraq, they are trying to turn it into a debate on Cindy Sheehan herself, using the techniques we have seen far too often. For example, they have taken some vague comments on Israel’s role in the mideast to attribute anti-Israel views to Sheehan which she has vehemently denied holding. They have even attempted to use misquotations of Sheehan to drive a wedge between Democrats and Jewish voters. Even if Sheehan has made some statements (and by no means has made the statements being attributed to her by the right) we realize that she is hardly a political expert, or someone experienced in dealing with this degree of publicity. We are not looking at Cindy Sheehan as someone to guide government foreign policy. This is just about a grieving mother who lost her son based upon lies.

The right wing noise machine has tried to discredit Sheehan’s grief by saying her son re-enlisted and therefore went willingly. Casey Sheehan re-enlisted based upon false claims that Iraq was threatening us with WMD. Casey Sheehan and many others enlisted or re-enlisted based upon claims we would be greeted as liberators and return home quickly. They did not join to fight a war based upon a lie which has had the result of undermining our national security and strengthening al Qaeda.

The divorce from reality which the right wing suffers from can be seen on the WMD issue. Although even the United States government has given up the hunt and concedes there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the war, the right wing pseudo-news sites and blogs still write as if the existence of WMD was a proven fact. Here’s just one example of how they distort the truth. Recently we had a conservative visitor commenting to one of our posts on Cindy Sheehan. Checking his site I found a reference to the chemical weapons found in Iraq last week, quoting another conservative blog as insisting nobody could believe that these weapons were not around before the war. The source of this report was a story in last week’s Washington Post which I reported on here. The same report quotes the United States military spokesman who reported on this find as saying “the suspected lab was new, dating from some time after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.” The Washington Post also summarized the issue by saying, “The Bush administration cited evidence that Saddam Hussein’s government was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction as the main justification for the invasion. No such weapons or factories were found.”

The right has even resorted to their usual “flip-flop” attack line in claiming that Sheehan is expressing different views now than she did when she met with Bush the first time after the death of her son. The Vacaville California Reporter has covered Sheehan extensively since Casey’s death and spoke out against these charges, noting that in the attacks starting by Drudge “only portions of our story were printed. Left out were the Sheehans’ reservations about the war.” They compared Sheehan’s views over time and stated, “We don’t think there has been a dramatic turnaround. Clearly, Cindy Sheehan’s outrage was festering even then.”

Outrage is what we should all be feeling. Outrage against this war, and outrage against the deceitful tactics of the right which have dominated the national discussion on Iraq as well as most issues which matter. These tactics are disturbing enough when applied to every day political arguments. They are especially odious when applied to a mother grieving over the death of her son.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Kerry Rallies Democratic Lawmakers in Seattle

More coverage of John Kerry in Seattle today...

Kerry Rallies Democratic Lawmakers in Seattle
By Austin Jenkins

OLYMPIA, WA 2005-08-19 - Massachusetts Senator John Kerry spoke in Seattle Friday, rallying the Democratic troops attending a national legislative conference. He said despite his defeat, and his party's losses in Congress, Democrats have made headway in state governments across the country.

 (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Idaho remains a Republican stronghold. Bert Marley is a Democratic Senator from Pocatello. He says his party needs to craft a message that better fits the West, in order to win more votes:

Bert Marley: I think things like healthcare, education come to the forefront as issues I don't think the Republicans are doing a good job on and that we can do a better job than they're doing. I think that's the area where our message is going to have to come from.

Senator Kerry added that national Democratic strategists need to listen more to state and local lawmakers in order to understand the issues their constituents are dealing with.

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
"Kerry is trying to build the party's ground game by electing more Democratic state legislators across the country."

Related Post: Coverage of Kerry in Seattle: Kerry blisters Republicans

Coverage of Kerry in Seattle, Part 2

Kerry blisters Republicans, touts Democratic comeback at state level
By David Ammons, AP Political Writer | August 19, 2005

SEATTLE –John Kerry, last year’s unsuccessful Democratic nominee for president, was back on the campaign trail Friday — this time promoting a Democratic resurgence at America’s state capitals as the party attempts to rebuild.

After blistering Republicans on everything from Iraq to health care, the Massachusetts senator said Democrats have an opportunity to rebuild simply by addressing the concerns that affect people’s daily lives — energy, transportation, health care and security.

His comments came before 750 Democratic state legislators attending the National Conference of State Legislatures. He announced plans to campaign and raise money for Democratic legislative candidates across America.

He may use those chits for a new White House bid, but said in an interview that he’s taking his political plans a day at a time.

“I don’t have a timeline,” he said. “I’m just going to go out and see what we can do about ‘06 (midterm elections for Congress and state legislatures), try to be as helpful as possible, and then begin to make some judgments.”

The ill-fated campaign was still clearly on Kerry’s mind, with an analysis and a broadside against Bush and congressional Republicans taking up the lion’s share of his 35-minute speech to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s luncheon.

Kerry scoffed at the idea that Democrats need an extreme makeover.

“We have to go out and fight for the real issues that make a difference in the lives of the American people and we don’t need some great lurch to the right or lurch to the left or redefinition of the Democratic Party.

“The last thing America needs is a second Republican Party.”

He said it’s no surprise that Democrats have been gaining at state capitals after falling behind Republicans in the 1990s. Democrats control both chambers in 19 states and Republicans in 20 states, and the two parties currently have almost equal numbers of state lawmakers nationwide.

Democrats moved 10 chambers into their column last year, “the best overlooked story of 2004,” said Colorado Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, chairwoman of the national campaign group.

More states are targeted, and Democrats hope to be in good position when legislative and congressional boundaries are redrawn after the 2010 census, she said.

Coverage of Kerry in Seattle

Kerry pays visit to Seattle

SEATTLE – Former presidential candidate John Kerry stopped in Seattle Friday to share his strategy for winning in 2006 and beyond.

Speaking at a National Conference of State Lawmakers, the Massachusetts senator urged Democrats to work harder and start earlier in organizing grassroots support.

Kerry says Republicans outworked Democrats in 2004 and have since hijacked America’s future.

“We don’t need some great lurch to the right or lurch to the left or redefinition of the Democratic Party, the last thing America needs is a second Republican Party,” he said.

Kerry did not say whether he would run again in 2008.

Frist Backs Teaching Intelligent Design

Just when we thought he wasn’t all bad for supporting stem cell research Bill Frist has come out in favor of teaching intelligent design in the schools saying, “I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith.”

You would think that someone who went to med school would realize that science classes should teach science. There are other places to discuss faith, which includes intelligent design. Then again, how much can we expect from a guy who thinks he can diagnose (or rule out) a persistent vegitative state based upon a video tape?

CNN Reports on WMD Intelligence Errors

While we weren’t looking someone snuck some real reporters back into CNN. On Sunday at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. they will be airing a show entitled Dead Wrong — Inside an Intelligence Meltdown looking at the intelligence errors leading up to the Iraq war.

According to CNN, the show “pieces together the events leading up to the mistaken WMD intelligence that was presented to the public. A presidential commission that investigated the pre-war WMD intelligence found much of it to be ‘dead wrong.’”

Bipartisan Opposition to War Increasing

Maybe Bush is a uniter after all. Earlier this week we had both a Democratic Senator (Feingold) and a Republican Senator (Hagel) call for a plan to withdraw from Iraq. Now it looks like we may have a bipartisan resolution in the House calling for withdrawal. Republican Congressman Walter Jones has about fifty co-sponsors on a joint resolution that calls on President Bush to announce by year’s end a plan for withdrawal from Iraq. Sponsors include Dennis Kucinich.

Jones cited the absense of WMD in Iraq as a reason for supporting withdrawal. Jones initially bought the Bush Administration line, and even coined the word “Freedom Fries.” He now has found that the French were right and Bush was wrong. “”If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have supported the resolution,” said Jones.

Reminders for 9/11

It should come as no surprise that Bush plans to continue to use 9/11 for politcal gain. Ron Fournier reports that Bush plans on 9/11 reminders:

Changing the subject would help Bush, and he has a chance to do that with the upcoming fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes. Aides say the president plans to invoke Sept. 11 in his weekly radio address Saturday as he begins a weeklong push to remind Americans why he believes the United States must stay on the offensive in Iraq and not bow to terrorists. He plans to address the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday and a National Guard group on Wednesday.

Here’s some reminders for George Bush:

George Bush received warnings about al Qaeda and recommendations for fighting them upon taking office, but ignored them.

George Bush received warnings about that Bin Laden was planning an attack prior to 9/11 and ignored the warnings.

George Bush tried to link Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, but there was no connection between Saddam and 9/11 (and Saddam didn’t have WMD either). Actually secular governments such as Iraq were a major target of Bin Laden’s and the attack on Iraq played right into his hands.

Bush had a chance to capture Bin Laden at Tora Bora and blew it.

Studies last year showed that in response to the war al Qaeda was able to triple their number of operatives. More recent studies have shown that Iraq has turned into a training ground for terrorists, with most of the terrorists being people who were radicalized by war and were not previously terrorists per both Saudi and Israeli studies.

Regular readers here, LUTD, and The Democratic Daily have seen posts on all of the above. I’ve added a couple of recent links and if time allows I’ll add more later.

Today's Op-Eds on Elections and the Supreme Court

There’s two must read op-eds today. Paul Krugman looks back at the 2000 election, noting that Katherine Harris’s planned runn for the Senate will stir up these memories. He cites a recent book which looked at the election:

In his recent book “Steal This Vote” - a very judicious work, despite its title - Andrew Gumbel, a U.S. correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, provides the best overview I’ve seen of the 2000 Florida vote. And he documents the simple truth: “Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election.”

Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida’s ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore. This was true despite a host of efforts by state and local officials to suppress likely Gore votes, most notably Ms. Harris’s “felon purge,” which disenfranchised large numbers of valid voters.

Senator Kennedy wrote about the importance of reviewing Roberts’ views in the Washington Post. He reviews previous statements from Roberts and points out that, “If Roberts continues to hold the views he appears to have expressed in the early 1980s, then his views on civil rights are out of the mainstream, and the people have the right to know that.” Kennedy concludes with:

No one has an automatic right to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court. A nominee to the high court must first demonstrate that he has a core commitment to constitutional rights and liberties. He must show that he is in the mainstream of modern judicial thought and that he would not use an ideologically motivated interpretation of our Constitution or laws to reverse the hard-fought gains we have made to make this nation more just. Judge Roberts’s early record raises serious questions about his commitment to core constitutional values, and the Senate must have the requested information to fully and faithfully execute its constitutional obligation.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Study Shows Fox Bias Does Not Affect Viewer's Opinions

A study by Stefano DellaVigna of the University of California, Berkeley, and Ethan Kaplan of the Institute for International Economic Studies at Stockholm University found that viewers realize there is bias in news sources such as Fox. The good news, if they are correct, is that people filter out the bias and this does not affect election results.

I hope they are right, but still wonder about the cumulative effect of all the biased reporting which creates an echo chamber which might do more harm than any one right wing propaganda source might do on its own.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

State By State, They Disapprove of Bush

Survey USA found, as in other recent polls, that Bush’s popularity has dropped tremendously the last few months. They looked at Bush’s approval state by state.

Bush has higher approval than disapproval ratings in just ten states: Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska, Texas, Alabama, North Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma and Mississippi. Louisiana and North Carolina are tied.

This leaves a lot of red states where Republican support may be weakening. For example, in Ohio 37% approve compare to 60% disapproving of Bush’s job. Missouri is only slightly better with a 38% approving and 58% disapproving. Nationwide only 41% approve of Bush’s job performance while 55% disapprove.

Looking Back at the 2004 Election

Political Science Quarterly takes a nonpartisan look at the 2004 election. There are no real surprises here. The election was close due to the near equal division in the country, and 2008 is also expected to be a close race. Open races with no incumbent running also tend to be close.

Due to the degree of polarization most people made up their minds early and there was only about a one percent shift during the race, contradicting arguments in some liberal blogs that Kerry lost what was a sure thing due to running a poor campaign.

Attitudes expressed at the time of the election could represent a long term problem, with more people believing Kerry is too liberal than Bush too conservative. However, the recent deterioration in Bush’s support might lead more people to reconsider their previous pro-Republican beliefs and I suspect that this aspect of evaluating the 2004 election might not be relevant to 2008.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Another Difference Between Democrats and Republicans

The Economist looks at the importance of exercise to George Bush:

Enthusiasm for sport can be a ticket to Mr Bush’s inner circle. Ms Rice works out with the president and spends time at Camp David watching baseball and football on television (apparently her most cherished dream is to be appointed the commissioner of the National Football League). And a poor physique can test the president’s patience. When Mr Bush sacked Larry Lindsey, his portly economic adviser during his first term, he apparently complained in private about his failure to exercise.

Mr Bush’s obsession was on full display during the search for a new Supreme Court justice. He apparently asked one candidate, Harvie Wilkinson, two tough questions: What is the most difficult decision you have ever made? And how much do you exercise? The 60-year-old Mr Wilkinson said he ran three and a half miles a day. But the president urged him to do more cross-training. “He warned me of impending doom,” Mr Wilkinson told the New York Times. In introducing the successful candidate, John Roberts, to the country Mr Bush highlighted the fact that he had been captain of his high-school football team—as if this made up for the fact that he was a swot at Harvard Law School.

They compare George Bush’s exercise habits to those of Bill Clinton whose “jogging was mostly for show, and a hefty hamburger would often be consumed afterwards.” These differences are then extended to the two political parties:

Mr Bush’s own likings are par for the course in his party. Look at the Republicans on Capitol Hill. Dennis Hastert, the House speaker, made his name as a high-school wrestling coach. Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, is a keen marathon runner who takes his staff on workouts around the Mall. Another senator with presidential ambitions, George Allen, was a college sports star (and the son of a famous Redskins coach). And Arnold Schwarzenegger is, well, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Or look at Republican voters. If the Democrats have an impregnable lead among the country’s PhDs, the Republicans have a lock on the NASCAR crowd. For Democrats the main qualification for a top job is “intelligence”—hence their constant complaint that Republican presidents are too dumb for the job. But for Republicans the most important qualification is “character”—by which they mean an ability to hit balls and bang heads.

Of course there are always exceptions as they concede that not “all Democrats are nerds (John Kerry is a superb athlete), nor that all Republicans are jocks (Karl Rove is many things; athlete is not one of them).”

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Tragedy of War at Home

Earlier today I was browsing the news and saw a headline on MSNBC about a Marine arrested for opening fire on a crowd. I clicked on a different headline and when I clicked back to check that one, it was gone (hmmm)... Hat tip to Tay Tay on DU for posting this story about a "Marine of the Year" who opened fire on a small crowd last night in Lawrence, MA.

Decorated Marine opened fire on noisy crowd

A man who was named "Marine of the Year" last month for his service in Iraq injured two people when he fired a shotgun from his apartment window at a group of revelers leaving a night club, police said.

A 15-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man were injured by bullet fragments when Daniel Cotnoir, 33, of Lawrence, allegedly fired a bullet at the crowd outside his second-floor apartment early Saturday.

Minutes before the shooting, Cotnoir called police to complain about the noise coming from the street around 2:50 a.m., The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune reported.

Cotnoir, whose wife and two daughters were home at the time of the shooting, later told police he feared for his family's safety because someone threw an empty juice bottle through his bedroom window.

Cotnoir was arrested and held on $100,000 bail. He was to be arraigned Monday in Lawrence District Court on attempted murder charges.

Clearly, Daniel Cotnoir needs help. "Cotnoir, now a Marine reservist, was a military mortician in Iraq. During his deployment last year, he was responsible for preparing soldiers for open-casket funerals."

The article notes that in an interview last month with the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, "Cotnoir said the job took a heavy psychological toll. At the time, he was getting counseling at a veterans hospital in Bedford."

We can only begin to imagine the horrors that Daniel Cotnoir experienced in Iraq. I have a dear friend who recently explained to me the duty's of Marine "Bone Detail", when he served in Vietnam.

This highlights yet another view of the tragedy of the Iraq war striking here at home. While Cindy Sheehan
continues her vigil outside of Bush's Crawford ranch, others across the country struggle daily with assimilating back into daily lives after serving in Iraq. We need to do more to help these people. We need to bring the troops home.

Daniel Cotnoir was honored by John Kerry for receiving the "Marine of the Year"
award on July 14th.

Cheated Soldiers: Kerry Military Family Bills of Rights Stuck in Senate Finance Committee

The Sunday Boston Globe had an excellent OP/ED on the self-employed members of the National Guard who get little in the way of support from the government when they go on active duty and often end up suffering financial hardship or losing their business.

The OP/ED highlights John Kerry's Military Family Bill of Rights, which has been stuck in the Senate Finance Committee since February. Earlier in the month the Boston Globe featured an article about members of the Guard who have struggled to keep their businesses afloat while on active duty and the Globe referenced Kerry's Military Family Bill of Rights in that piece as well. I wrote about
that article here.

In a nutshell, the Boston Globe believes that "The proposals deserve bipartisan support and speedy passage at a time when troop shortages strain all branches of the military and when Reservists and National Guard members have taken on an increasing role overseas. Lieutenant Colonel Lou Leto, public affairs director for the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, said that Guard and Reserve troops make up 40 percent of the forces in Iraq and Afghanistan."

I could not agree more. Let's hope that giving this issue some press moves it out of the Senate Finance Committee and on to the Senate Floor for a unamious vote. It's time for Republicans to prove they really do support the troops.

You can read the OP/Ed here.

Kerry News

John Kerry addresses the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee in Seattle, WA on Friday. (From The Note)

Limbaugh Goes Fascist

There’s no other word for Rush Limbaugh if this quote from is true:

“Wouldn’t it be great if anybody who speaks out against this country, to kick them out of the country? Anybody that threatens this country, kick ‘em out. We’d get rid of Michael Moore, we’d get rid of half the Democratic Party if we would just import that law. That would be fabulous. ”
–Rush Limbaugh, August 11, 2005

Not surprisingly, he didn’t extend this to another one of his usual targets–drug addicts.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Dubya's New Nickname

Luther Keith of The Detorit News asks, “Is George W. Bush the wartime president or the vacation president?”

Teresa Back Campaigning

Heinz Kerry stumps for governor candidate in Sun Valley

08:43 PM MDT on Sunday, August 14, 2005

Associated Press

KETCHUM — Jerry Brady, the eastern Idaho newspaper publisher who’s running for governor in 2006, got a little fundraising help from a prominent Sun Valley woman.

Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of the former presidential candidate John Kerry, was stumping for Brady at an event in Ketchum. She has a house there.

Among Brady’s possible Republican opponents, only U.S. Rep. Butch Otter says so far he’s running for the top Idaho post.

Brady garnered only 42 percent of the vote in 2002 when he lost a previous bid for the governor’s job to Dirk Kempthorne.

Heinz Kerry says she thinks Brady’s campaign is far ahead of where he was three years ago when he lost.

Brady’s family owns the Idaho Falls Post Register in Idaho Falls.

Senators as Presidential Candidates

It has been noted more times than Kerry supporters want to acknowledge that Governors have been more successful in running for President. While true, I wouldn't let this be a decisive factor in deciding upon 2008 candidates.

One problem with this analysis is that we are dealing with a very small sample size, and each election is decided by multiple factors. Being a Senator was often not the deciding factor in the case of many losing candidates. Many of the recent Senators running for President have been running against a sitting President, which is generally an uphill battle. In recent years this included John Kerry, Bob Dole, Walter Mondale, and George McGovern.

Yes, it is true that three former Governors did beat sitting Presidents recently, but each was under unusual circumstances. Gerald Ford did not have the usual advantages of incumbency, and was running under the shadow of Watergate. Jimmy Carter was faced with two obstacles to reelection--the hostages in Iran and an unusually effective campaigner in Ronald Reagan. George Bush Sr. was elected only due to Ronald Reagan's popularity. As he subsequently became one of the worst Presidents in American history, foreshadowing his son's terms in office, it is not surprising that he was beaten by a Democrat who matched Reagan in charisma.

Historical factors reduce the long term significance of this trend. Until the 17th amendment was passed in 1913, Senators were appointed rather than being elected. It is possible that the lack of experience in running for a major office placed them at a disadvantage compared to Governors. In eras when the federal government was smaller and foreign policy concerns were not as great, a Governor also seemed the more obvious choice over someone from a legislative body. This is no longer the case. For example, while Howard Dean would be an excellent choice for running any state's Medicaid program, John Kerry showed far more understanding of national health care policy and the Medicare program. Similarly I listened to a recent health care symposium with Mark Warner and did not feel he approached the expertise of John Kerry (or any other Senator involved in health care policy) on national programs. The difference in expertise between Senators and Governors might be even more important politically over national security issues. Many question if Bill Clinton could have been elected after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and I also note that his wife chose the Senate as her next step in hopes of returning to the White House.

Perhaps the most important factor which changes the disadvantage of a Senator is the nature of current campaigns. There is no doubt that there were disadvantages to being a Senator with hundreds of votes ready for misinterpretation. Often the meaning of a vote is completely different from what would appear from a brief description, as we saw with the Iraq War Resolution vote. It is easy for an opponent to take votes for or against a final budget to claim that a Senator supported or opposed everything in the final budget. Different circumstances and different details in different bills make it easy to fabricate charges of flip flopping.

What has changed is that Governors are no less subject to such political attacks. The Dukakis campaign showed what could be done to a Governor. Future Governors running will have every decision ever made scrutinized by opposition researches and spread on the internet and by friendly media. There was good reason why both George Bush and Howard Dean sealed many of their records. If there isn't enough unfavorable material in the record, that no longer matters. The most harmful attacks on John Kerry coming from the Swift Boat Liars had nothing to do with his Senate record. Similar lies can (and most likely will) be fabricated against any candidate.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to a Senator is the opposition to a Washington insider although this would not explain why former Vice Presidents, many of whom had been former Senators) were successful in being elected. This is likely to be a bigger obstacle to Senators from the party in power. While some Republican Senators might have a tougher time in 2008, unless they have successfully cultivated a reputation as an outsider, a Democrat who is known for criticizing the Republicans in power might have an easier time. It is no coincidence that the last Democrat to be elected from the Senate was John Kennedy, beating a Republican after eight years of Republican rule. Perhaps another Senator JFK from Massachusetts will repeat this on a second attempt.

Justice Department Didn't Trust Rove

Murray Waas of The Villiage Voice has provided some insight into why a special prosecutor was appointed:

Justice Department officials made the crucial decision in late 2003 to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the leak of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame in large part because investigators had begun to specifically question the veracity of accounts provided to them by White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, according to senior law enforcement officials.

The Justice Department had good reason to question Rove’s honesty:

During his initial interview with the FBI, in the fall of 2003, Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed Plame with Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper, according to two legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter. Federal investigators were also skeptical of claims by Rove that he had only first learned of Plame’s employment with the CIA from a journalist, even though he also claimed he could not specifically recall the name of the journalist.

Harvard To Study Origins of Life

Get ready, Rick Santorum. Here’s something else you can blast Massachusetts for:

Harvard jumps into evolution research with new initiative

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. –Harvard is joining the long-running debate over the theory of evolution.

The school is launching an ambitious research project that will bring together experts from a variety of fields, including astronomy and biology, to study how life emerged on Earth.

Researchers hope recent scientific advances, such as the discovery of water on Mars, will help them learn more about life’s origins.

“My expectation is that we will be able to reduce this to a very simple series of logical events that could have taken place with no divine intervention,” said David R. Liu, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard.

War Increases Threat From WMD

There’s yet more evidence that Bush’s invasion of Iraq has placed us at increased risk from WMD, contrary to his pre-war claims. The Washington Post reports on how “U.S. troops raiding a warehouse in the northern city of Mosul uncovered a suspected chemical weapons factory containing 1,500 gallons of chemicals believed destined for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces and civilians.”

The Washington Post reports a military spokesman of reporting that “the suspected lab was new, dating from some time after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.” The Post places this in perspective, explaining that “The Bush administration cited evidence that Saddam Hussein’s government was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction as the main justification for the invasion. No such weapons or factories were found.”

Newspapers Reporting Anti-War Views at Funerals

Editor and Publisher has noted a trend for newspapers to be more willing to report on the anti-war feelings of the families of soldiers killed in Iraq:

Papers Increasingly Note Antiwar Views in Covering Funerals of the Fallen

By E&P Staff

Published: August 14, 2005 11:30 PM ET

NEW YORK In a departure from past policies, newspapers around the country, with the U.S. death toll in Iraq again soaring, increasingly are reporting the antiwar sentiments of family members of the deceased in their coverage of funerals. The latest example comes from the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader on Sunday.

It concerns the funeral of Lance Cpl. Chase Johnson Comley. The story notes that “in a departure from the norm in Kentucky — one of the reddest of red states — some of Comley’s relatives, including a few sitting in the front pews, have spoken out strongly against the Bush administration and the war that took the 21-year-old Marine’s life.”

Comley’s grandmother, 80-year-old Geraldine Comley of Versailles, described herself as a former Republican stalwart who is “on a rampage” against the president and the war.

“When someone gets up and says ‘My son died for our freedom,’ or I get a sympathy card that says that, I can hardly bear it,” Geraldine Comley said. She added that she would like nothing better than to join Cindy Sheehan, who has been holding a protest outside President Bush’s ranch in Texas.

Her daughter, Missy Comley Beattie, also was critical of Bush and the war in a column she wrote for Friday’s Herald-Leader.

“I’ve never seen my father cry, but I’ve heard him cry this week,” she said in an interview. “And he will look at the picture of Chase that’s on their hearth and say ‘George Bush killed my grandson.’”

Saturday, August 13, 2005

John Kerry Delivers the Democratic Hispanic Radio Address Marking the 70th Anniversary of the Social Security Act

John Kerry delivered the Democratic Hispanic Radio Address today, marking tomorrow as the 70th anniversary of the Social Security Act being signed into law.

The following is the translation of this week’s Democratic Hispanic Radio Address delivered by Senator John Kerry.

“Hello, this is Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts.

This Sunday – August 14th – marks the 70th anniversary of the day the Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Social Security has been called the most successful government program in the world because it lifted millions of seniors out of poverty.

Hispanics are less likely to have additional sources of retirement income, and therefore after a lifetime of hard work rely on Social Security to a greater extent. Without Social Security, 56 percent of Hispanics would live in poverty.

As the Ranking Member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee I am deeply concerned about the detrimental effect that President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security would have on Hispanic small businesses.

Studies have shown that the Social Security private accounts President Bush proposes would cut benefits for small business owners and employees. President Bush’s plan would likely burden small businesses with hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in administrative costs and red tape in managing the private accounts of their workers.

But the President continues to go around the country promoting a Social Security proposal that will drag America’s small businesses and their employees backward. Private accounts won’t do a thing to protect Social Security and they won’t work for small businesses.

No matter how a system of private accounts is set up, small businesses risk losing 40 percent or more of their Social Security benefits, profits and valuable time and resources under President Bush’s privatization plan.

At a time when Hispanics represent the largest minority and one of the fastest growing business group we must ensure that we work together to strengthen Social Security.

This is Senator John Kerry. Thank you for listening”

Listen to John Kerry's Democratic Hispanic Radio Address here.

Senador de Massachussets, John Kerry, Emite el Mensaje Semanal Demócrata por Radio

Friday, August 12, 2005

John Kerry Travels to Seattle to Address Democratic Legislators at DLCC Annual Luncheon

John Kerry is currently on a trip across the country. Although, I am told by a member of Kerry's Senate staff that he is on vacation, it appears that Kerry is combining work with pleasure... see my earlier post on his stop in Montana.

Kerry is scheduled to stop in Seattle on Friday August 19th, to address Democratic Legislators at DLCC Annual Luncheon.

Kerry Calls State Legislators the Cornerstone of the Democratic Party

Washington, D.C. – On August 19, Senator John Kerry will be the keynote speaker at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s (DLCC) 10th Annual Luncheon in Seattle, WA. The Democratic legislators will be in Seattle for the National Conference of State Legislatures Annual Meeting.

Kerry’s remarks will focus on the importance of Democratic victories at the local level, specifically state legislative seats, and how Democrats can ensure that they have the resources and tools needed to communicate our values and ideas to voters across the country.

The DLCC is committed to creating Democratic majorities in state legislative chambers across the country in 2006 and beyond. The organization’s mission is to build and maintain winning, state-of-the-art campaign committees through a continuing partnership with legislative leaders, professional staff, and supporters. The DLCC will meet throughout the week in Seattle to discuss strategy and plans for the future.

Keeping America’s Promise, a leadership PAC chaired by John Kerry, has donated more than $100,000 to candidates, state parties and legislative caucuses across the country. Keeping America’s Promise is working to build a national grassroots organization dedicated to supporting Democratic candidates at every level of government, strengthening the Democratic Party, training young political staff and promoting a policy agenda that Americans deserve.

Friday August 19
12:30pm PT
John Kerry speaks at the DLCC’s 10th Annual Luncheon
The Westin Seattle, Grand Ballroom
1900 Fifth Avenue in Seattle, WA

John Kerry on Listening Tour Across America

It seems that John Kerry has embarked on a "Listening Tour" across the country. In a pick-up truck with his motorcycle in tow... John Kerry is off to see America and spend time listening to the concerns and voices of Americans...

Kerry visits Schweitzer during listening tour

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, stopped by the Capitol on Thursday to visit with Gov. Brian Schweitzer as part of a national "listening tour,'' but deflected any questions about running for president in 2008.

The Massachusetts senator was on his way to his vacation home in Ketchum, Idaho, during the congressional recess.

Kerry peppered Schweitzer, his staff and state Sen. Mike Cooney, D-Helena, who had stopped by the Capitol to pick something up, with questions on state and national issues. He asked Schweitzer how the state would deal with the Bush administration's proposed Medicaid cuts.

"This administration, while they talk the talk, there's no walking the walk,'' Schweitzer said. "They put additional demands on the states with no new money.''

Added Schweitzer: "I think we're probably going to need a new president.''

Kerry, 61, grinned broadly.

"Any suggestions?'' Cooney asked.

"I'm staying away from that one,'' Kerry said with a laugh.

Schweitzer, meanwhile, put in a pitch for his proposal to convert Montana coal into liquid fuel through a process known as Fischer-Tropsch to reduce, if not end, U.S. dependence on foreign oil. U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., put some tax incentives for the process in the energy and highway bills.

Kerry was intrigued when he learned that Schweitzer had met with the chief executive of Shell Oil, which is building 12 such plants in China, and had talked with a top South African official about that country's use of the process.

After Kerry asked about Montana's budget situation, Schweitzer said Montana has a $300 million surplus, thanks in part to high energy prices.

"I think I put a few bucks in your coffers,'' Kerry said. "I filled up four times between Casper, Wyo., and here.''

Kerry, who never campaigned in Montana during his presidential bid, raved about Montana's splendor.

"It doesn't get any more beautiful than this,'' he said.

Kerry visited Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument near Hardin on Wednesday night on the way to Bozeman.

"Every moment just grabs you,'' he said.

Kerry was following the Lewis and Clark trail thorough the state as he and an aide listened on tape in their car to Stephen Ambrose's book, "Undaunted Courage.'' They stopped to see the convergence of the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin rivers near Three Forks. Kerry said he had been interested in Lewis and Clark for years.

As Schweitzer gave Kerry a tour of the Capitol, they stopped in front of the bronze sculpture of the late Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and his wife, Maureen. Kerry called Mansfield "a great man'' whom he had always admired. In checking out the sculpture, Kerry saw it depicted Mansfield with a PT-109 tie clasp like those the late President John F. Kennedy, a former Massachusetts senator, handed out to commemorate the torpedo boat he commanded during World War II.

"Great, I can't wait to tell Teddy,'' Kerry said, referring to the late president's brother, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

Later, Schweitzer took off his "It's a new day in Montana'' bolo tie and gave it to Kerry, who immediately put it on. Schweitzer's only condition was that Kerry had to wear it on the Senate floor, which Kerry he happily agreed to do.

UPDATE: Here's a bit of a different take on the same story -- Kerry says howdy

Jon Ebelt IR Staff Photographer

UPDATE: I've been told by a member of John Kerry's Senate staff that John Kerry is on vacation. This story highlights the difference between John Kerry and George W. Bush. While John Kerry is on vacation he takes time to stop and listen to concerned citizens across the country. While George W. Bush is on vacation, he can't even make the time to sit down and talk with a Gold Star Mom camped outside of his ranch.

WSJ Needs Lessons on Science From Its Own Science Writer

The writers for the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal should talk with their science writer. Sharon Begley has an article on entitled U.S. Science Research Is in Danger of Losing Place on Cutting Edge.

That’s what happens when you have a one party system which is anti-science. Many of the same Republicans that the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal routinely backs are fighting to substitute religion for teaching of evolution in the schools and restricting funding of stem cell research.

Begley acknowledges the ramifications of current Republican policies:

Allowing a minority opinion to stifle research is only one symptom of politics undermining science. Some appointees to federal scientific advisory panels have been chosen for their ideology rather than their expertise; staffers with no research credentials alter the scientific (not only the policy) content of reports on climate change. Politicians’ attacks on the science of evolution continue, even though “intelligent design” may make a fascinating lesson for a philosophy class, but is not biology.

“This anti-scientism couldn’t be more damaging to young people contemplating devoting their life to research,” says neuroscientist Ira Black, whose own stem-cell institute in New Jersey has been stalled by political red tape. “The sense of opportunity that was always predominant in the U.S. now lies elsewhere.”

Since scientific innovation has long fueled economic growth, there is a danger “that the U.S. will no longer be dominant in innovation,” says G. Wayne Clough, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. “A larger number of international patents are being obtained overseas, R&D facilities are moving overseas. If we are not innovating here, the economic benefits will go elsewhere, too.”

An interesting battle will come when a lab in Singapore or Seoul or Britain uses embryonic stem cells to develop a therapy for diabetes or Parkinson’s or heart disease. Its use in the U.S. would require approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Will opponents of stem-cell research demand that the FDA reject it and deprive patients of their only hope?

When Will it End?

As Cindy Sheehan sits camped outside of Bush's ranch, waiting for what may never transpire, an audience with George W. Bush, there are new reports today that the National Guard and Reserve have "suffered more combat deaths in Iraq during the first 10 days of August — at least 32, according to a Pentagon count — than in any full month of the entire war."

More broadly, Pentagon casualty reports show that the number of deaths among Guard and Reserve forces has been trending upward much of this year, totaling more than 100 since May 1. That ranks as the deadliest stretch of the war for the Guard and Reserve, whose members perform both combat and support missions.

Today, speaking to reporters at his ranch, Bush reiterated that "Pulling the troops out would send a terrible signal to the enemy."

Lacking the true leadership to to do the right thing, Bush stubbornly holds to his positions. Rather than speak to directly to Cindy Sheehan, Bush said to reporters, "I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her position. She has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America." What a cowardly cop out!

Rather than give Cindy Sheehan some time to express her grief, Bush was off today to a neighboring ranch for a fundraiser, there in showing his true priorities... the almighty dollar (that is sinking in value daily for poor in this country)...

He was scheduled to visit a neighbor's ranch for a barbecue where he was to help raise a couple million dollars for the GOP just by showing up.

The fundraiser for some 230 people at Stan and Kathy Hickey's Broken Spoke Ranch, a 478-acre spread next to Bush's ranch, was expected to raise at least $2 million for the Republican National Committee, according to RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt.

Actor, activist Viggo Mortensen paid a visit to Cindy Sheehan yesterday at Camp Casey to show his support. Cindy also got some support from John Kerry and Ted Kennedy yesterday in her quest to obtain a meeting with Bush.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Sen. John F. Kerry yesterday each threw their support behind Cindy Sheehan, who has been camped outside Bush's Crawford, Texas, home since Saturday, vowing not to leave until the president meets with her about the war. Sheehan's 24-year-old Marine son, Casey, was killed five days after he arrived in Iraq.

"The president has not leveled with our troops and the American people,'' Kennedy said. "I admire Cindy Sheehan for her courage and determination to make the president answer to her."

Kerry spokeswoman April Boyd said: "Senator Kerry understands the demands on Bush's schedule but hopes he will take time to meet with Mrs. Sheehan."